Industrialist Rahul Bajaj's Outbursts Will Erode Modi Government's Credibility And Influence Among Masses
Syed Khalique Ahmed |India Tomorrow
NEW DELHI, DECEMBER 1— Prime Minister Narendra Modi got huge praises from industrialists and corporates in January 2009, at the fourth edition of the Gujarat Global Investor’s Summit. Many leaders, including Reliance Group’s Anil Ambani in an open meeting of industrialists and others, in presence of Narendra Modi as chief minister of Gujarat at that time, said that Narendrabhai is the future prime minister of the country. As Gujarat progressed under the stewardship of Narendrabhai, Ambani said, one could only think of what will happen if Narendrabhai got the opportunity to lead the country.
Riding piggyback on the Hindutva wave created through divisive slogans of BJP, VHP and other saffron organisations and inability of the Congress to counter the false propaganda of the BJP which fought 2014 Lok Sabha elections under the leadership of Modi, BJP won 282 seats out of a total of 543 seats, achieving absolute majority on its own. Ambani’s wishes were realized. Keeping the communal pot boiling, the BJP won 303 seats in 2019 Lok Sabha elections and Modi took oath as PM for the second time.
But what did Modi government achieve on economic front in the country after he took over the reign of the country? Did India achieve industrial and economic development after Modi became PM? What about employment generation, growth of Gross Domestic Product (DGP), an indicator of economic growth of any country? I am sure Anil Ambani would be ready to take his words back he uttered in 2009 if he is assured that he would not be targeted by the government agencies under the Modi government.
Almost entire Indian corporate world remained silent during the last six years of Modi’s rule despite no industrial growth and loss of crores of jobs owing to mindless demonestisation and Goods and Services Tax (GST) exercise. It was left to Bajaj group’s Chairman Rahul Bajaj to speak the truth on November 30 at a function in Mumbai. He said that every industrialist was feeling scared and no one was willing to speak the truth because they feared that government agencies would be let loose against them. During UPA-II government, he said, industrialists could criticize the Manmohan Singh government without fear of any retribution but under Modi government, there is an atmosphere of fear and intolerance.
Bajaj also came down heavily on the central government about no action having been taken in cases of mob lynching of Muslims. Referring to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s statement “lynching” is a foreign word and lynching took place in Western countries. Bajaj also indirectly spoke about BJP’s rival political leaders having been jailed for hundreds of days without any conviction from a court of law. “No rape, no treason, no murder…... yet people have been in jails for hundreds of days without being convicted. I am not supporting anybody. I have never met a minister either in my office or at home in the last 40-50 years. I don’t know any minister”. Perhaps, Bajaj was referring to some political leaders like P Chidambaram in jail in INX media case which is considered to be a politically motivated case.
Bajaj, known to be an anti-establishment, criticised the Modi government in presence of BJP president and Home Minister Amit Shah, considered to be No. Two in Modi government. It is not a small thing. It requires a great courage to say a spade a spade in front of Amit Shah and Modi who have forced everyone from media to industrialists, even political leaders from many rival parties to bow before them. At the end of the speech, Bajaj expressed apprehension that he might also be targeted by the government for speaking the truth.
Whatever be the impact of Bajaj’s open criticism of the government led by Modi who is not used to listen to criticism, one thing is sure: it would encourage others as well to come in open and express their mind about the functioning of the government. Bajaj’s remarks revealed that there is lot of anger and disappointment in the corporate community of the country owing to policies of the BJP government. Even common voters who gave 303 seats to BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha elections seem to be totally disenchanted now. The example of it is Maharashtra where BJP got less number of seats in October 2019 assembly elections and failed to form the government in Maharashtra due to rift with its ally for three decades Shiv Sena. Whatever be the reasons for Shiv Sena leaving the BJP, one thing is sure that Shiv Sena has learnt that BJP’s popularity graph is declining among the public and there is no use of continuing the alliance and hence, it took the support of NCP and Congress to form the government, with Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray as chief minister.
Not only that, BJP also lost by-elections to a few assembly seats last week in West Bengal where BJP had performed very well in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and political analysts opined that BJP could take over the power in the next assembly elections in WB. But that does not seem to be the case now. The reason for BJP’s defeat is stated to be the National Register of Citizens (NRC) that affected lakhs of Bengali speaking population in Assam and made them homeless overnight. Besides Bajaj’s outbursts, another stunning development that occurred in the last one month is the agitation by Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students over the issue of hike in hostel fee. Despite highhandedness of the Central government, JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) has been continuing their agitation, demanding total rollback of the hike. Though the reason given by the HRD Ministry and other government agencies that JNU is in debt due to rising cost to maintain it, sources say that it were the products from JNU who have been constantly taking up cudgels against the RSS and BJP’s policies and even after Modi became PM, it were the JNU people who were the first to criticize its wrong policies leading to unemployment. The JNUSU led by left leaning students has been so strong and powerful that even ABVP, RSS’ student wing, was also forced to support it and take out a rally in support of JNUSU demands.
With BJP already losing power in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab and now Maharashtra and badly being defeated in by-polls in WB, it is now clear that BJP’s juggernaut has been stopped. It no longer remains invincible.
Bajaj’s remarks about the situation in the country and what corporate world feels about Modi will further erode Modi’s credibility as a leader who can deliver and his influence over the general public.